Beyond Google with Ajay Singh: BJP with a sharp campaign shows it's no longer the party that lacks 'killer instincts'

Editor's note:There are known unknowns, unknown knowns and known knowns. And then there’s all that Ajay Singh knows. Firstpost’s executive editor mines his decades-long experience reporting on politics to tell stories from the heartland that even Google can’t unearth.

There are some visuals that refuse to fade away from memory. One such visual was that of Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad hitting a six on the last ball and wresting the AustralAsia Cup at Sharjah in 1986 from India by a whisker. Some cricket experts later explained it by saying that India lacks "killer instincts".

In the 90s BJP veteran, LK Advani borrowed “killer instincts” from cricket lexicon and transplanted it on politics by saying that the BJP also lacks “killer instincts” after the party lost elections in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh in the wake of the Babri mosque demolition. In one of the press conferences later even Atal Behari Vajpayee endorsed Advani and said with a mischievous smile “the party lacks that attribute, killer instinct which Advaniji refers to”.

BJP leader LK Advani. PTI

BJP leader LK Advani. PTI

Of late there are enough indications that the BJP has made up more than enough for that inadequacy. The party’s resounding victory in Maharashtra’s local bodies poll is an indication of that. But more significantly, the focused campaign in Uttar Pradesh election seems to be leaving nothing to chance. Everything seems to be fair in this electoral battle.

Take for instance the manner in which the BJP has been deploying its trained cadres in the phase-wise poll is meticulously planned. At the same time, its campaign machinery is working overtime to mobilise the electorate through technological innovation. A senior government official monitoring the polls pointed out that after the second phase of polls, voters were mobilized on communal lines by making viral pictures of Muslims lining up for the vote. “This tactic has subsumed caste identities in the collective identity of the Hindus,” he said.

There is little doubt that both the sides contributed to raising the decibel level of debate that eventually degenerated into a verbal slugfest. But it would be absolutely wrong to pin the blame only on the BJP leadership for the degeneration of the public discourse. Rahul Gandhi’s vacuous belligerence and Akhilesh Yadav’s ill-conceived comments contributed a great deal in bringing down the level of debate. The metaphors of kabristan-shamshan and Kasaab invented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah respectively was an effective response to the belligerence shown by their adversaries.

If you have any doubt, just look at the statements made by the Congress and SP leaders in the recent times. More recently Kapil Sibal referred to the BJP president only as tadipaar (those exiled from the state)” in order to humiliate Amit Shah. In wake of the surgical strikes, Rahul Gandhi coined a new word for Modi and blamed him for indulging in khoon ki dalali (trading in blood of soldiers). Unlike the past, these barbs are getting fierce retaliation from the BJP.

Unlike the past, the BJP leadership now does subscribe to the maxim that “nice guys finish the last”. And they are not ready to take any offence against them lying down. Now take the manner in which the BJP’s election machinery has identified the vulnerable booths all across the state and deployed men and muscle in the first four-phase to neutralise the possibility of booth-capturing in the state. Though a large group of bureaucrats at crucial postings in districts acted like Samajwadi Party’s agents, the deployment of the BJP workers is said to be highly effective to curb the chances of manipulation. In terms of muscle power, the BJP proved to be more than a match for their adversaries as a strong contingent of party workers has been acting like quick response team (QRT) in potentially weak areas.

In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the BJP has been contesting the state assembly election in the most organised manner. Though the party leadership found itself at the receiving end of the issue, its strategy to rope in 140-odd candidates from outside on the basis of winnability is proving to be a brilliant idea following reports that the move consolidated non-Yadav backward castes in favour of the BJP. Similarly, the party leadership steadfastly stuck to its pro-Hindu image by denying tickets to any Muslim. Since the perception developed that the SP-Congress coalition and the BSP are inclined towards Muslims, the BJP’s strategy is expected to pay rich dividends in the next three rounds of polls in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Perhaps a close scrutiny of emerging scenario would confirm that it has been following the trajectory of Gujarat politics. Modi’s method of “disruptive creation” has been consistently paying high dividends. Just before 2007 state assembly elections as a Gujarat chief minister, Modi took stern steps of arresting farmers for not paying their electricity dues and indulging in power theft. This had angered Patels but Modi successfully consolidated non-Patels to his favour and co-opted tribals in large number. Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, his demonetisation move created a serious disruption for the trading community which is supposed to be the party’s committed cadre. Though this disruption has angered traders, Modi appears to have won over a huge section of subalterns to Hindutva fold through various welfare schemes. No doubt that the new BJP has not only found expansion but also acquired adequate “killer instincts” whose imprint is all too evident in the polls.

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Updated Date: Feb 24, 2017 19:19:57 IST

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